Ozarks Viewpoints

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mustard herb

Very few, if anyone, in this area has ever called turnips a herb of the mustard family, but there it is in the dictionary for a definition. This time of the year is ideal for turnips, and this season has produced some really nice ones.

Not being the gardening type, after having given up after a couple of successive failures, it might even be possible for me to grow turnips. However, some very successful gardeners in the area experienced failures this past growing season.

One such grower relied on a friend to provide him his wants for the herb that is grown for the table, and for their tops, which are becoming quite popular as grazing feed for cattle in some times of low moisture in late seasons. However, legal or not, it's possible these turnips could be grown to entice a large buck deer into a particular area. The sources will remain hidden in whatever mind that might remain.

Anyway, these turnips we received were the sweetest that have passed these lips in recent memory. Whatever method used to plant and grow them, the turnips were exactly correct; from the size of the herbs, to their taste and texture, they were perfect.

Years ago

Back when there were quail in this country, stumbling onto a turnip patch or planning to hunt in the vicinity where one existed, was part of the pleasure. And, for some unknown reason, you might even expect to find a covey in cover that might be nearby the patch.

More than likely, there had been a walk involved in getting to the area, and the era was before the time of plastic bottles that made it easy to carry water. There was always plenty of H20 for the dogs with ponds involved, but for the human, it was a turnip that frequently served double duty of refreshing from a water and snack standpoint.

The problem with this was that some were strong and others pithy, but most generally, one or two were at least partly consumed, if for no other reason than tradition. The fact existed that not always did all the dirt come off the turnip after holding it in hand and removing the peel, but down it went anyway.

Economic

Further back in history, during the Depression Days, this time of the year, an abundant turnip crop meant one more vegetable on many tables in this area. And, even then they were handy as a snack, which always came with a warning that caution was to be followed while using a sharp knife to peal the purple and white skin off.

Again, this time of the year it wasn't unusual to have some member of the family arrive at home in the evening with a small sack that contained turnips. People in that era were kind in their sharing of bountiful foods.

They had to be, there wasn't money available to go out and purchase anything you wanted.

Gratifying

On another subject, it was great to watch the tube over Thanksgiving, viewing the American Kennel Club dog show in New York. There were some of the most beautiful animals that anyone would want to view.

Lone absentee in the final judging was the English Setter, which in my opinion can be the most beautiful animal on earth, while acknowledging there are certainly others, according to some folks.

The best of show for this event was an American Fox Hound female named Jewell. She was just that as she made her final round circling the judge. Had the final award gone to any other, it would have been a total mistake. Jewell was stately in her movements, and apparently perfect in all her ways, to capture the top prize.

Specially important

Jewell made her breed proud, which would have been especially important to a one-time Cassville man. The late Gentry German was a famous Fox Hound breeder who practiced his trade south of Cassville, on the west side of the road, just north of the Keen family spring, which is a part of the headwaters of Flat Creek.

He was immortalized in a prose and poetry book that was classroom reading when I was in high school in Springfield. The book, Voice of Bugle Ann, talked about German and he was famous and outlined some of his experiences with Fox Hounds.

German, who was often quoted in Fox Hound activities throughout this region, served as bench judge for most of the Barry County Fox Hunters Association hunts held somewhere in the area back in those days.

He built the structure that stands today at the stoplight intersection of Cassville serving several businesses. Originally Flagstone, and known as the Hound Ditch Inn, it was later covered, but still stands.